Meet Molly Uravitch, the first of our 2016 LEAP finalists. Shop her decidedly delightful (and functional!) ceramic creatures in the Contemporary Craft Store throughout February and March.
CC: Tell us about your work.
Molly Uravitch (MU): My current body of work, which I call Creatures of Distinction, is made for interactive dining and viewing enjoyment. I am transforming everyday dining objects such as a salt & pepper shakers, oil and vinegar ewers, and serving dishes into animals that stand alone as a sculpture when not in use, but are fully functional, livening up every meal.
CC: Could you share with us how your background and education influenced your work?
MU: I received my BFA from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, MI where I studied under Tom Phardel. He was a remarkable professor, stressing that you learn as many techniques and processes as possible, while holding you to the highest standard of craft. It was an incredibly rigorous program that demanded a strong work ethic to succeed. I contribute my experience at CCS for setting the foundation of my artistic practices.
My MFA research was completed at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL where I studied under Pattie Chalmers and Harris Deller. They were a dynamic team, both being a constant presence and force in the studio. Their knowledge and passion for the material was inspiring.
There was a strong bond and sense of community within the department. While at SIU, I experienced moments of intense discussion and debate as well as time for personal reflection. This allowed me to develop an awareness of my connection to my art. I was able to refine and develop my visual vocabulary and strengthen my identity as an artist.
While attending both schools I was extraordinarily lucky to have talented peers who have become life-long artists and friends. We kept each other working in the studio late, tapping into each other’s energy, and sharing in discussions of concept and technique.
CC: Why were you drawn to ceramics?
MU: When I was a 13 my parents sent me to the Corcoran School of Art and Design to take an adult ceramic continuing education course. Margret Boozer was teaching there at the time. She was eye opening about the limitless possibilities of clay, allowing me to make large sculptures, and encouraging me to be expressive.
Although at times I work multi-media, I am continually in awe of the amazing diversity of the material. The wide variations that are possible in changing clay bodies, firing temperatures, glaze options and surface treatment allow for continuous growth. Working in clay I can follow my interests, moving between everyday utilitarian objects, sculptural-functional ware and sculpture.
CC: What inspires you?
MU: I have always been attracted to the “more is more” aesthetic. Historically I draw inspiration from the over the top aesthetic of Baroque and Rococo. I also research Moorish architecture where there is a unique balance of structure, pattern and color. In the natural world I am drawn to invertebrates and exotic flowering plants. I study their form as well as the intense patterning and color mash combinations that can be found.
CC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an artist?
MU: Surround yourself with imaginative, talented, and focused people.
CC: What advice do you have for others considering a career in the arts?
MU: You need to have an incredible amount of drive and passion for what you do. Expose yourself to the widest range of materials possible. This will help with creative problem solving. Stay focused and don’t get discouraged.